Well, I took the jump. Went into online play. It was an interesting experience. I dug out my old homebrew D&D campaign, and we had a blast.
First a bit of background. Due to half my work group getting new jobs, I was at a loss. While I can still play stuff with the remaining, I was at a loss. So while talking to my buddy Consadine, who lives several hundred miles away, we hit on the idea of playing an RPG by Skype.
So I also decided to get a few more people involved. I invited Jim and Po, who had left work. Then I invited Consadine, since it was in part his idea. Finally, I invited Doug, who is probably one of my oldest friends, we've been playing D&D and other games together since 6th grade- he was especially important since he played in Campaigns II, III, and IV of the homebrew campaign.
Now, Jim didn't have a microphone to join via skype. And for the first session Po was having trouble with Skype (which was his own damn fault). So it was just Doug and Consadine for the first session. As first sessions go, it was pretty typical as RPGs go (I'll do up a quick write up, if readers and players want it). What made it unique was the stuff I learned.
1. Skype is excellent for decreasing the amount of tangents. Back in the day, I actually had a 'S.T.A.N.' jar. S.T.A.N. stood for 'Stupid Tangents a Nickel'. We would charge people who broke game flow a nickel. The clink of the nickel dropping into the glass jar was a nice sharp focus (and we occasionally cashed it out for pizza). With Skype though it, there were no tangents. Multiple people talking at once made for mass confusion, every one took turns talking. Even getting up to take the kids to bed or switching laundry didn't cause a big disruption.
2. Rolz.org is an amazing gadget. First off it allowed us to all join a room where we could see each other's rolls, but also had neat scripts for the weird unique type of die rolls I like. You could do roll-over (roll the highest on the die, add in and reroll), or drop the lowest result on a number of die. It was a great tool, and one that I think that everyone would want to use if they are playing online.
3. No more lost character sheets. Since everyone had to send me a copy of the Character Sheet, that means that I will always have one. Especially since they will remain forever inside my gmail, there's little to no danger of losing something.
4. Easy reference. While I didn't use it myself this session, I do plan on using links much more in the future. However, it was great that when I was talking about a primitive trombone, called a sackbut, Consadine was able to get into here. However, given that my PCs are going to be going to going into a territory that is thematically based on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, I'll have lots of chances to use those awesome Seirra Club pics of the southwest that are everywhere on the internet.
5. More importantly then with live gaming, it is important that everyone has a chance to catch up with everyone. This kinda harkens back to the first point, since there is really no chance for some talking when someone else is the primary player. This will also teach me to really spread around the love, there's nothing worse then sitting while someone is the center of attention, except perhaps not even being able to talk to your buddy while it is happening.
In all it went really well, but I can't wait until next week to pick up a new PC or two. It went so well that I think that I might expand the invite to a few others. However, that may prove difficult depending on the number of players. We'll see.